by Kris Pitcher
Lots of people ask me what they can put on their food. Both competitors and lifestyle clients alike want to know what the guidelines are. Here's the short answer: it depends.
It depends on your goals. It depends on your values. Values? Yes, your values around foods. Lots of nutritional choices are values based decisions. I have my own ideas (values), and you can form yours too.
I cook in bulk and season each meal. This method gives me variety. I also cook the components of my meals separate. Again, this gives me the most flexibility to select the type of protein, and carbs I want in each meal.
A lot of people shifting to a healthier way of eating are used to sauces and dressings. Sometimes those things just don't fit the new goals. Or, we need to look at alterations to our favorites. When we want change, we need to be open to change.
Have you been down the spice aisle lately? All dry spices are great. There are tons of spice blends, rubs, and spice mixes to add to the flavor of your meals. And unless you are dealing with high blood pressure, salt is fine. We need salt. Take a trip down the spice aisle and see what catches your eye. Be sure to look at the list of ingredients, and watch for any "ose". Words ending in "ose" are some form of sugar. Sugar is added to lots of things for flavor and filler.
Hello hot sauce! Check the ingredient list for hidden sugars, but most hot sauces are fine. I love it on pretty much everything. There are hundreds to choose from whether you like it mild, or HOT. Go for it!
What about dressing up those summer salads? Look for a very low calorie option with minimal ingredients. If you don't understand the ingredient list...you don't want it. Many "fat free" products are full of sugar, or other fillers. Get creative in the kitchen and make a dressing.
That's right, make your own. I love mustard with apple cider vinegar. Keep in mind I am smack dab in the middle of prep. If I weren't, I'd mix in a little balsamic vinegar, a touch of olive oil and shake it up. Oh! I almost forgot about fish sauce. I love that in dressings too.
Soy sauce is a values choice. Soy products can be estrogenic, and based on your goals this may or may not fit. It also contains gluten. So if that's a thing for you...no soy. But for most, some soy sauce on things makes a great taste.
The key is staying away from things with lots of sugar. Ketchup, most BBQ sauces, anything white, Hoisen sauce (my favorite in the off season)...these are going to add to our caloric intake when our goal is to control calories and use them on the most nutrient rich foods for our body.
Another key is staying away from high fat sauces. Anything in the cheese related family is not going to get you to your goals. Gravies, sorry.
Explore the wide variety of salts on the market now. There are also many varieties of peppers. Red pepper flakes are another great way to add some spark to your meals.
Fresh herbs are fantastic. So are green onions. And you would be surprised how a spritz of lemon or lime will wake up any meal. Any dried herbs are great additions to the cooking process too. There is simply zero reason to feel bored with your food, or feel like you have to cover everything with saucy-sauce.
Tasting things in a new way gives you a fresh perspective, and will get you to your healthy eating goals. Hit the grocery store and open your eyes to some new ways to spice things up!